I was invited to speak at a beauty industry event called Beauty Focus on the subject of blogging. It was really good to have the opportunity to talk from the heart about what blogging means to bloggers, because what occurs to me is that while blogging is a hot topic, it is very rarely seen from the viewpoint of the actual blogger.
My slot followed two very interesting presentations about social media, which is a very good case in point. Everyone wants to talk about bloggers, how to engage with bloggers and how to target bloggers, but very rarely is there any consideration for the bloggers themselves. As we know, blogs are run on a very personal level that is completely alien to the majority of marketers, social media agencies and brands.
I think the PRs are getting their heads around it and doing what they do so well which is getting to know bloggers on an individual level, but everyone else likes to lump us all together as ‘the bloggers’. Robin Derrick, creative director of Vogue, recently said that PRs would become redundant because brands were making contact directly with their markets. God help us if this were true, because most bloggers will know that left to their own devices, brands manage to cause untold problems and bad feeling when they think they’re down with the kids and in reality they blunder through a ‘blog event’ with all the finesse of an elephant on ice.
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Recent inbox activity shows that the address ‘Dear Blogger’ is still a popular method of initial engagement; they’d be astonished if we approached them with ‘Dear Social Media Attempt’. There’s a lot less of ‘we’ve created lots of fascinating content’ or ‘we’ve written this especially for you’ because I think people are finally grasping that we make our own fascinating content thank you and er, write our own blogs. I’m getting quite a lot of incoming mail about invitations for ‘exclusive blog events’ where a small number of ‘top’ bloggers only are invited. I’m not sure I like this. The joy of meeting bloggers who are at the beginning of their journeys who may not have racked up ‘top’ status is indeed that, a joy. Enthusiasm is infectious.
I was able to say that it’s our job to tell, not sell, and that we are under no obligation whatsoever to feature any brand, ever. The issue of control came up: I feel that what brands are forever trying to grasp is control of blogs. But the nature of blogging is such that there is none and they’re just going to have to get used to it. I don’t know what I’ll be posting about tomorrow, I don’t have a ‘forward plan’ for my blog and I don’t want to make millions from it. This concept is met with incredulity. But it is the free-flowing, mercurial nature of blogs that makes them so natural and easy for other make up lovers to engage with and so difficult for brands and social media agencies to grasp. It is simply not possible to ‘control’ beauty bloggers.
Overall, I felt the focus on how to engage with bloggers or to use blogs to best effect (for the brand of course) still doesn’t take into account the emotional aspect of blogging which can be very strong. There is no clue about the backstories – a new mum blogging while the baby sleeps, a busy exec. making precious time to blog for fun, bloggers who would love to find a way into the beauty industry and can showcase their commitment via a blog, or people like me who use their blogs as an overspill for products they’re desperate to write about but can’t find the print space for them. We’re names and numbers and nothing more.
Overall, it needs to be clearly understood that bloggers are highly individual, and every blog has a different way of operating and a unique reason for being in the blogosphere. Understand that, and you are part way to being heard.
Obviously, I cannot speak for all bloggers, but what I could do was point out what irks me and how it feels to be at the sharp end of a social media explosion where link exchanges, offers of product and attempts to sway my opinion comprise the bulk of my BBB email account.
Anyway, I didn’t fall flat on my face walking up to the podium, I didn’t grip the podium so hard it fell to pieces in front of everyone and I didn’t accidentally swear – none of the fears that have kept me awake at night happened. Whew!
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